Court hears fi­nal ar­gu­ments in mas­sage-ther­apy as­sault trial

Edmonton Journal - - CITY - PAIGE PAR­SONS ppar­sons@post­

A jury heard Wed­nes­day that there is “no grey area” in the case of an Ed­mon­ton reg­is­tered mas­sage ther­a­pist ac­cused of sex­u­ally as­sault­ing a client.

Dur­ing clos­ing sub­mis­sions of a three-day trial, Crown pros­e­cu­tor Neil Wiberg told the jury that Raul Sar­duy-Fleites and the com­plainant have of­fered “two com­pletely dif­fer­ent ac­counts” of what hap­pened dur­ing a mas­sage ap­point­ment on May 26, 2014.

Court heard that the woman, whose iden­tity is pro­tected by a pub­li­ca­tion ban, al­leges Sar­duyFleites re­moved the sheet cov­er­ing her, touched her breasts and gen­i­tals, and forced a fin­ger in­side her re­peat­edly. She told the jury she told him “No” and to stop, but that he held her in place.

When the ap­point­ment ended, se­cu­rity footage played in court shows the woman walked to the front of the cen­tral Ed­mon­ton wellness store and mas­sage clinic, pay a dif­fer­ent em­ployee, speak briefly with Sar­duy-Fleites, and leave.

Af­ter go­ing to po­lice, the woman was ex­am­ined by a sex­ual as­sault re­sponse team nurse, who found the woman’s breasts were sen­si­tive, but did not find any ev­i­dence of tear­ing in her vagina, court heard.

Po­lice charged Sar­duy-Fleites with one count of sex­ual as­sault in De­cem­ber 2014.

Tes­ti­fy­ing Tues­day, Sar­duyFleites de­nied the al­le­ga­tions. He tes­ti­fied he and the com­plainant barely spoke to one another dur­ing any of the five ap­point­ments they had to­gether. The woman al­leged the as­sault hap­pened dur­ing the fi­nal ap­point­ment.

Sar­duy-Fleites’ defence lawyer, Deb­o­rah Hatch, high­lighted a num­ber of el­e­ments that she said cast doubt on the com­plainant’s ver­sion of events, in­clud­ing the woman’s own tes­ti­mony that she is un­com­fort­able with nu­dity, that she found mas­sages to be painful, and that she was di­a­betic and hadn’t eaten at all on the day of the of­fence.

She also ques­tioned why the woman al­lowed her legs to be spread apart, and why she didn’t run or scream.

The judge is ex­pected to give in­struc­tions to the jury Thurs­day.

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